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Chromebook Outpacing Mac Notebook In U.S. Sales

May 25, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

More personal computers powered by Google’s Chrome OS shipped in the U.S. during the first quarter than those built on Apple’s OS X in the same period, IDC  has confirmed.

“Chrome PCs overall, including Chrome desktop units like the Chromebox, out-shipped all Apple personal computers, desktop plus notebook, in the U.S. for Q1,” said Jay Chou, one of several IDC analysts who track device shipments, in an email reply to questions.

Chromebooks, the inexpensive notebooks that run Chrome OS, also out-shipped Apple’s MacBook, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro notebooks in the U.S. The first-quarter battle wasn’t even close, according to the notebook-only shipment numbers Chou provided.

Apple shipped an estimated 1.17 million Mac notebooks in the U.S. during the first three months of 2016; IDC said 1.6 million Chrome OS notebooks shipped in the same span.

In other words, 37% more Chromebooks shipped than Mac notebooks.

Last week, Tom Warren of The Verge reported that Chrome OS hardware had out-shipped OS X-equipped Macs after speaking with one of Chou’s colleagues. Subsequently, numerous other outlets, including blogs and mainstream media websites, picked up Warren’s report.

IDC’s shipment data for Chrome OS and OS X systems were estimates generated using information from vendors and Asian component suppliers. Google, which developed Chrome OS, does not reveal shipment numbers: Most Chromebooks originate from third-party OEMs (original equipment manufacturers), including Acer, Asus, Dell, Hewlett-Packard and Lenovo. And although Apple disclosed global Mac sales in its April 26 earnings call with Wall Street, it did not break down that figure by geographic region.

That IDC’s numbers were estimates only was clear when comparing the research firm’s forecast to Apple’s stated sales for the first quarter. Prior to April 26 — when Apple said it had sold 4.03 million Macs worldwide – IDC had projected global Mac shipments at 4.47 million, or about 10% too high.

 

 

 

Are Transparent Displays On The Horizon?

May 25, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

Almost every sci-fi telivision program has tablets and monitors which are transparent and it seems that Samsung has finally build them. The only problem is that they are not that great to use.

Samsung unveiled the first commercial installation of its cutting-edge mirror display at an upscale hair salon in Seoul, South Korea. The 55-inch display units act as a mirror while playing media over the mirrored image.

The display represents a (90%) transparent layer over an underlying mirror, and is a genuinely transparent display. The Planar LookThru OLED Series offered something similar but cost too much for the great unwashed to use.

Using Intel 3-D camera technology, Samsung’s displays can also show customers in different hair styles, colors and trends, allowing the hairdressers at the Leekaja Hairbis’ Jamsil salon to provide customized, interactive consultations with their clients. Samsung expects mirror displays to be used in retail, interior design, furniture and fashion markets in the future. Similar 55-inch Samsung mirror displays will be available for purchase worldwide in fall 2016.

The Samsung mirror display ML55E provides 90 per cent  transparency and 55 per cent reflectivity, designed to minimize visual distraction and provide clarity, both in the reflective mirror surface and in the media content overlays.   It has been suggested that the technology could be a money spinner –  one study shows the market for plastic and flexible OLED displays is expected to rise to $16 billion by 2020, with TV and industrial/professional use to make up half of the market share.

But the tech is still pretty expensive. One unbranded transparent OLED screen will set you back $1190.00. But there is another problem. Transparent OLED displays might work in sci-fi movie directors, but that is because they allow the camera to interact better with actors in a hard to film situation. Practically though see-through displays which have no touch capability are all really only useful in the exhibition sector.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Microsoft To Make Switching Between IE11 And Edge Browsers Easier

May 24, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Microsoft announced that it will introduce changes in this summer’s Windows 10 Anniversary Update to simplify switching from Internet Explorer 11 (IE11) to Edge, and back.

The changes will be aimed at enterprises, the only customer group Microsoft recommends running IE11 in the new operating system.

“We recognize that some enterprise customers have line-of-business applications built specifically for older web technologies, which require Internet Explorer 11,” the company said in a blog post.

Previously, Microsoft included “Enterprise Mode” in Windows 10, a feature that lets an IT staff limit IE11′s operation to specific legacy websites or web apps.

Starting with the Anniversary Update — Microsoft’s name for the one major upgrade it will deliver for 10 this year — the “interstitial” page, one that pops up between running Edge and IE11 when Enterprise Mode kicks in, will vanish.

Currently, a switch from Edge to IE11 opens a page that states, “This website needs Internet Explorer 11″ before IE11 fires up. With the Anniversary Update, the interstitial will no longer appear: IE11 will simply open atop Edge when the user steers to a site or app on the Enterprise Mode whitelist.

The same no-interstitial-page behavior will take place when a worker running IE11 types in an URL that is not on the list: Edge will open without a pause.

Microsoft will also introduce a new group policy for IE11 that will limit the browser’s use to only those sites on the whitelist, barring users from running IE11 for the bulk of their browsing. “Enabling this setting automatically opens all sites that are not included in the Enterprise Mode Site List in Microsoft Edge,” Microsoft said.

IE and Edge have a rapidly-shrinking share of the browser market, but the former will remain important to businesses with older apps and customized internal sites, which unless rewritten will require the older browser. Together, IE and Edge were run by 41.3% of the world’s users in April, a new low that dropped Microsoft into second place behind Google’s Chrome browser.

 

 

 

In-Home Tech Support Companies HelloTech, Geekatoo Merging

May 24, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Los Angeles-based startup HelloTech and rival in-home tech support company Geekatoo announced that they have merged, in a sign of consolidation in the hotly competitive on-demand sector.

HelloTech will combine its network of about 150 college students who provide on-demand tech repair to Southern California consumers with Geekatoo’s U.S. network of about 5,000 technicians, the companies said in a joint statement.

The merger connects HelloTech with Geekatoo’s national market and provides Geekatoo with more access to venture capital funding, HelloTech co-founder Richard Wolpert said in an interview.

HelloTech, which launched about a year ago, has raised $17 million from investors, while 5-year-old Geekatoo has raised close to $3 million.

“You could either use capital to expand really quickly or you could merge with a company like Geekatoo that had already spent money doing this,” said Mark Suster, managing partner at Upfront Ventures, which backed HelloTech.

The new company keeps the HelloTech name and will be led by Wolpert. He said the deal was a stock transaction, rather than a cash payment, but declined to provide further details.

Both companies dispatch in-home tech support within hours of a request to fix a wonky printer, install a new TV or troubleshoot WiFi problems, among other services.

HelloTech hit a few bumps last year after launching, with some negative customer feedback that its workforce of predominantly college students was unprofessional.

Wolpert said the company has worked out the glitches. HelloTech has a five-star rating on customer review site Yelp.

Geekatoo Executive Chairman Christian Shelton saw demand for tech services rising as more people add internet-connected devices – such as the smart thermostat Nest or WiFi camera Dropcam – to their homes.

The U.S. tech support industry makes about $30 billion in annual revenue, according to research by Parks Associates, a consulting firm.

“The opportunity is massive,” Wolpert said.

The company’s main competition is Geek Squad, a tech support service founded in 1994 and owned by big-box retailer Best Buy.

HelloTech targets baby boomers with disposable income to spend on new gadgets and someone to help get them up and running.

“There is enormous wealth in the baby boomer generation,” Suster said, and their “digital lives are becoming increasingly complicated.”

 

 

Is Qualcomm Getting Into Drones?

May 24, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

It looks like that Qualcomm wants to make drones smarter and the company plans to use the Snapdragon developer board to do so. We had a chance to see the proof of concept drones that are capable of knowing and mapping environment.

Hugo Swart, Sr Director, Head IoE-consumer electronics at Qualcomm, has explained that the general direction in smart drone market at this time is the consumer electronic. Swart confirmed that the first drones powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon Flight drone platform technology should be commercially available very soon.

The company see drones as flying cameras, as most of sold drones have being used for video or aerial photography purpose. The drone we saw demonstrated at Qualcomm San Diego campus were powered by Snapdragon 410c developer board and this is one light device. The drone weights just bel 250 grams and it is made from composite materials. It packs a few cameras, four rotors and a Snapdragon 410 based developer board that makes the drone smart.

The actual weight is an important detail, as drones that are less than 250 grams do not have to be registered by the aviation authorities in the US. The demo showed a drone that used multiple camera to map the world around it, and it is aware of its surroundings.

The operator would use the tablet to fly the drone and the software had some nice features, like the use of the GPS to mark the position, and when necessary, the operator would just press the button and drone would find its way back to the marked position.

Since the drone would be using multiple cameras to map the world around it, it would be able to find a new path and avoid possible obstacles on its fly path. The demonstration we saw was done in a controlled environment with a huge rock in the middle of the environment, and the drone was avoiding the rock just as you would expect it.

The drone was able to detect a wall, and it would not let you fly in it and damage it. Drone would simply stop and would not crash and break no matter how hard you would try. The other nice feature was that the drone would be able to find its own way to the position market by GPS. It would not have to fly the path that you already flown, it would be able to find a shorter part to the mark position too.

Adding Snapdragon SoC on the drone would definitely make the flights safer and help you avoid damaging the drones or stuff around you. If you fly big drones for example with big cameras, you do not actually want to crash it and potentially destroy hundreds of dollars worth equipment.

Swart does believe that drones using Snapdragon Fly technology will first find its way in “flying camera drones” while later there might be a commercial applications with the Snapdragon Fly drones. Yes, at some point in the future, drones powered with this technology should be able to deliver packages. That is one of potential areas.

The only downside of this super lightweight drone was the fact that it had a small battery that would let it fly for six to eight minutes. Of course, if you make a larger drone with a larger battery, you would be able to fly it longer, but as we said this is a proof of concept designed to show the capabilities of this flying cameras. Qualcomm will have customers who will make the actual devices, the drone we saw in the demo room, was just to show the capabilities of the platform.

Partners will design its own drones and use the developer board (or integrated Snapdragon platform in an actual drone). The important part is the software who makes the synergy of the flying hardware and the visual compute in one Smart flying drone. If you are into drones, that this will definitely improve the overall experience.

Courtesy-Fud

 

nVidia Outs The Tesla M10

May 24, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Nvidia has been talking about its Tesla M10 GPU designed to run on the latest version of the company’s GRID technology.

For those who came in late, GRID technology is supposed to give servers a kick in the graphics back-end. It powers virtual desktops and support cloud-powered gaming.

Nvidia says the Tesla M10 GPU can support up to 64 desktops per board and 128 per server with two boards. This means shedloads of virtual machines  which are potentially dead and alive.

The new graphics card ccan support Citrix’s XenApp and virtual PCs running Windows, or power virtual workstations that need the performance for professional graphics work.

The M10 is a bit like the M6 and M60 as a GPU accelerator – unlike the M10 motorway which is a disappointingly short road connected the M1 to the A414 just south of St Albans.

Companies making use of virtual machines or looking to substitute hardware for more efficient virtual systems can access the GRID and Tesla tech for less than $2 per month per user for use with virtual apps and remote desktop sessions, and the firm will provide virtual PCs for less than $6 per month per user.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Nokia Slashes Another 1,000 Jobs

May 23, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Nokia is eliminating 1,032 jobs in Finland as part of a cost-cutting plan following its acquisition of Alcatel-Lucent, the telecom network equipment maker said in a statement last Friday.

Finland’s biggest company has cut thousands of jobs in its home country over the past decade as its once-dominant phone business was eclipsed by the rise of smartphone rivals.

Nokia started the latest cost cutting program in April and is targeting 900 million euros ($1 billion) of operating cost synergies from the Alcatel deal by 2018.

The company has declined to give an overall figure for global job cuts, but has said it in talks with employee representatives in about 30 countries.

Nokia employs about 104,000 people worldwide, with about 6,850 in Finland, 4,800 in Germany and 4,200 in France.

 

 

Google’s Tensor Processing Unit Improves Machine Learning

May 23, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

Google has taken a giant step forward with the speed of its machine learning systems by developing its own custom chip that it’s been using for over a year.

The company was rumored to have been designing its own chip, based partly on job ads it posted in recent years. But until today it had kept the effort largely under wraps.

It calls the chip a Tensor Processing Unit, or TPU, named after the TensorFlow software it uses for its machine learning programs. In a blog post, Google engineer Norm Jouppi refers to it as an accelerator chip, which means it speeds up a specific task.

At its I/O conference Wednesday, CEO Sundar Pichai said the TPU provides an order of magnitude better performance per watt than existing chips for machine learning tasks. It’s not going to replace CPUs and GPUs but it can speed up machine learning processes without consuming a lot more more energy.

As machine learning becomes more widely used in all types of applications, from voice recognition to language translation and and data analytics, having a chip that speeds those workloads is essential to maintaining the pace of advancements.

The TPU is in production use across Google’s cloud, including powering the RankBrain search result sorting system and Google’s voice recognition services. When developers pay to use the Google Voice Recognition Service, they’re using its TPUs.

Urs Hölzle, Google’s senior vice president for technical infrastructure, said during a press conference at I/O that the TPU can augment machine learning processes but that there are still functions that require CPUs and GPUs.

Google started developing the TPU about two years ago, he said.

Right now, Google has thousands of the chips in use. They’re able to fit in the same slots used for hard drives in Google’s data center racks, which means the company can easily deploy more of them if it needs to.

 

 

 

 

 

UPS And SAP To Offer On-demand 3D Printing Service

May 23, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

UPS and SAP announced plans to offer a distributed, on-demand manufacturing network based on 3D printing that will be available through The UPS Store in more than 60 locations around the U.S.

3D printed goods will also be available through UPS’ Fast Radius on-demand production platform and its 3D printing factory in Louisville, KY.

“The integration into one additive manufacturing and logistics solution this summer will make 3D printing accessible to more potential users, enabling them to realize the convenience and cost-savings this technology offers,” UPS said in a statement.

Users can visit the Fast Radius website (formerly CloudDDM) to place 3D printing orders, which will be transferred to the closest 3D manufacturing or UPS Store location based on speed, geography and the product quality the customer requires.

Some orders can be completed and shipped the same day, UPS said. The service is not limited to U.S.-based customers; UPS will take orders globally.

The new service integrates SAP’s extended supply chain software with UPS’s 3D printing machines and logistics network, enabling “on-demand industrial manufacturing for companies of all sizes,” UPS said.

“SAP customers will be able to digitize and simplify the production part approval process through SAP and their orders can be seamlessly routed to UPS for production and delivery,” the company said.

Stan Deans, president, UPS Global Distribution & Logistics, said “additive manufacturing technology is still developing rapidly so manufacturing as a service is a smart approach for many companies.”

 

 

 

ARM Acquires Vision

May 23, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

British chip maker ARM has acquired Apical which is an imaging and embedded computer Vision Company in a $350 million cash deal.

Apical’s products are used in more than 1.5 billion smartphones and 300 million other devices, all over the world, including IP cameras, digital stills cameras and tablets.

Its products will be used in ARM’s ‘next generation vehicles’, security systems, robotics, mobile and other consumer, smart building, industrial or retail application. These devices will be able to ‘understand and act intelligently on information from their environment,’ the press release claims.

It also said Apical’s technology will complement the ARM Mali graphics, display and video processor roadmap.
ARM CEO Simon Segars said that the computer vision is in the early stages of development:

“The world of devices powered by this exciting technology can only grow from here. Apical is at the forefront of embedded computer vision technology, building on its leadership in imaging products that already enable intelligent devices to deliver amazing new user experiences. The ARM partnership is solving the technical challenges of next generation products such as driverless cars and sophisticated security systems. These solutions rely on the creation of dedicated image computing solutions and Apical’s technologies will play a crucial role in their delivery.”

There are three products being looked at: Spirit (computer-vision technology), Assertive Display (screens which adapt to changes in light) and Assertive Camera (new performance advances, including dynamic range, noise reduction and colour management).

Courtesy-Fud

 

Is AMD Making Gains In The GPU Space?

May 23, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Figures from Mercury Research show that AMD appears to be clawing back some market share.

Of course market share does not mean profits, but it is the sort of news that AMD needs. Particularly, it does not appear that AMD is doing that much.

Mercury Research’s latest GPU market report, show that in the first quarter overall graphics unit volumes declined by 10.2 per cent in comparison to last year. However AMD gained discrete GPU market share.

This surge was on the back of AMD’s Radeon R9 Series GPUs as well as AMD’s revitalised driver development strategy. It clawed back 1.8 share points in desktop discrete graphics (that is 22.7 per cent) and 7.3 share point jump in notebook discrete, moving to 38.7 per cent share. Better than a poke in the eye with a short stick and could provide a bit of momentum when AMD’s next generation Polaris Architecture-based 14nm discrete graphics products are released this quarter.

The findings confirm what Wells Fargo analyst David Wong said earlier this week. He added that AMD has modeled for sequential growth, but Nvidia has guided for a 10 per cent sequential decline in sales for the quarter ended April 2016.

This suggests that what Nvidia has lost has been gained by AMD. If AMD manages to build momentum, it could pose a serious threat to Nvidia and expose the green goblin’s lack of GPU variety in the mid-tier. In order to retain its market share, Nvidia needs to come up with tactics to re-establish its dominance via product differentiation and feature incorporation.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Apple Goes Further With Intel

May 20, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Mobile

Intel has scored a more significant chunk of the upcoming iPhone 7 which is due to be released this year.

Digitimes deep throats claim that Intel will  supply half the modem chips for use in the new iPhones slated for launch in September 2016.

Intel will itself package the modem chips for the upcoming new iPhones, but have contracted Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) and tester King Yuan Electronics (KYEC) to manufacture the chips, the sources said.

Qualcomm is currently the supplier of LTE modem chips for the iPhone, but Apple has been keep to avoid focusing on one supplier. Still, the figure of half the iPhone 7′s is much more than many expected. It is a pity for Intel that the iPhone 7 is not expected to be a big seller – mostly because there is little new under the bonnet and it looks the same as the iPhone 6S.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Hyundai Motor’s Next-Gen Fuel-Cell Electric Car Launching In 2018

May 19, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Hyundai Motor Co aims to launch its next-generation fuel-cell electric vehicle in early 2018, Vice Chairman Yang Woong-chul said, to better compete with Japanese rivals and meet tougher emissions rules.

Hyundai rolled out the world’s first mass-produced fuel cell vehicle in 2013, dubbed the Tucson Fuel Cell, but sales have trailed expectations due in part to a lack of refueling stations and a high price tag.

For its new fuel cell vehicle, the automaker is set to double the driving range to about 800 kilometers (497 miles), the Electronic Times reported in January.

The new model will be a sport utility vehicle (SUV), in contrast to the fuel cell sedans of Toyota Motor Corp and Honda Motor Co Ltd, the South Korean newspaper reported citing a high-ranking Hyundai official.

The automaker declined to comment on details of the new fuel cell vehicle when contacted by Reuters. Vice Chairman Yang was speaking on Wednesday during a ministerial tour of a Hyundai research and development center.

Hyundai, which has long trumpeted fuel-cell vehicles – those powered by electricity generated using hydrogen and oxygen – also plans to launch its first battery-powered car later this year.

 

 

Nokia Hits 10Gbps Speeds

May 19, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

Nokia has demonstrated the feasibility of 10Gbps symmetrical data speeds over traditional hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) cable networks, such as those operated by Virgin Media in the UK.

Trumping BT’s 5Gbps XG.fast trials, Nokia’s prototype technology, called XG-Cable, is still at the proof-of-concept stage, but should easily integrate into the DOCSIS 3.1 suite of specifications focused on providing cable operators with technology innovations to transform the industry.

DOCSIS is the set of standards governing data access over cable TV networks, and DOCSIS 3.1 was designed to enable capacities of 10Gbps downstream, but only 1Gbps upstream. Nokia has taken this a step further by demonstrating that symmetrical speeds of 10Gbps are possible.

The technology is still at an early stage of development and no in-service date has been even floated by Nokia, but the test by Nokia Bell Labs has apparently demonstrated that the technology is viable using existing HFC cable networks, where fibre-optic cable is used to connect to cabinets on the street and coaxial copper cable lines are used for last-leg distribution to the customer premises.

XG-Cable means that cable operators will at some point in the future be able to use existing HFC cables in the last 200 meters to provide upstream speeds never before achievable owing to the limited spectrum available, according to Nokia.

This will enable the provision of ultra-fast broadband services to consumer locations that were not physically or economically viable unless fiber was brought all the way to the premises.

“The XG-Cable proof-of-concept is a great example of our ongoing effort and commitment to provide the cable industry with the latest innovations and technology needed to effectively address the growing demand for gigabit services,” said Federico Guillén, president of fixed networks at Nokia.

“The proof-of-concept demonstrates that providing 10Gbps symmetrical services over HFC networks is a real possibility for operators. It is an important achievement that will define the future capabilities and ultra-broadband services cable providers are able to deliver.”

Courtesy-TheInq

 

Is There A ‘For Sale’ Sign In Pandora Music’s Future?

May 18, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Corvex Management LP disclosed that it owns 9.9 percent of Pandora Media Inc and urged the internet music streaming company to consider being sold instead of pursuing a “costly and uncertain business plan.”

Corvex, a hedge fund run by Keith Meister, a protégé of billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn, said it had met with the company’s management and had withdrawn a plan to replace some of its board members. However, it now believes Pandora should hire an investment bank to help the company explore its strategic options including a sale.

“We believe there is likely to be significant strategic interest in the company at a substantial premium to the company’s recent stock price,” Corvex said, adding that large internet companies, handset makers and media companies could be potential buyers.

Pandora’s shares are down more than 25 percent in 2016 and more than 45 percent year-over-year. Corvex owns about 22.7 million shares in the company, making the hedge fund Pandora’s largest shareholder.

Pandora said in response that it is in constant dialogue with shareholders and committed to achieving long-term value for them.

“Pandora has a profitable core business, combined with a strong balance sheet. We are confidently investing to fully capture the massive opportunity ahead of us,” the company said in a statement.

Oakland, California-based Pandora has faced tough competition from music-streaming rivals such as Spotify, Apple Inc , Alphabet Inc’s Google and Amazon.com and has failed to turn an annual profit as a public company.

Analysts have said Pandora, which had a market capitalization of $2.29 billion on Monday, could be an acquisition target for larger media or internet companies looking to beef up their online music offerings.

Pandora co-founder Tim Westergren, a former musician who spearheaded Pandora’s music algorithm technology, returned to the company March 28 to become CEO, squashing some investors’ hopes the company could be sold.

Westergren told Reuters on April 15, “If you want to sell a company, you don’t do that by spending half a billion on acquisitions and hiring a new CEO.”